Blood donors should be judged on behaviour not sexual orientation

Blood donors should be judged on behaviour not sexual orientation

MSP Rona Mackay has welcomed changes to blood donation rules to make it easier for gay and bisexual men to give blood.

The Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP has been active in the Scottish Parliament calling for the 12-month ban based on sexual abstinence to be lifted.

Now, men who have sex with men (MSM) will only have to abstain from sex for three months to be allowed to donate blood.

It follows a scientific review by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO).

The Scottish Government has asked the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) to implement changes.

Ms Mackay, who held a Members’ Debate in the Scottish Parliament on the matter, said: “I am delighted that the Scottish Government have endorsed SaBTO’s recommendations to reduce the deferral period to three months.

“Many gay and bisexual men were effectively barred from giving blood due to the 12-month abstention period, which in my view was outdated and discriminatory. Eligibility should be based on lifestyle risk, not sexual orientation.

“These changes, based on scientific evidence, will allow these men to donate and add to the dwindling blood supply which in turn will save many more lives.”

ENDS

From Rona Mackay MSP by Alan Ferguson (07342 061722)

Notes for Editors:

Before 2011 MSM were permanently excluded from giving blood. This changed to a 12-month deferral in 2011 following a review by SaBTO. In April 2016, SaBTO set up a working group to review the current donor eligibility criteria. The Scottish Government has asked the SNBTS to implement the changes recommended by the SaBTO review, including reducing the 12 month deferral period to 3 months.

Rona Mackay’s members’ debate

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